Casshern Sins – Episode 10

Welp, it feels like it’s about time to get back to Casshern Sins. Last episode’s visit to Niko’s flower garden was definitely one of the highlights of the show so far – though it stuck to the general format and preoccupations of the show’s usual fare, its beautiful setting and strong characters helped it stand out in a very tough crowd. Basically all of Casshern Sins’ episodic adventures have been a treat; the show’s running through classic fables with confidence and beauty, and it’s only when things get bogged down in exposition that the production can start to drag. Let’s see what today’s journey through Ruin entails!

Episode 10

“Casshern, your blood is altering me.” Well, that’s entirely new info. Did Casshern’s undying nature affect Luna, or was it some sort of exchange between them that made Casshern what he has become? Not really enough to do much beyond speculate yet

Melancholy guitar plucking as a robot slowly trudges along a ridge in the wasteland. Good to be back, Casshern Sins

Dio lives in an actual castle. Casshern Sins is basically a show outside of time – there are robots, but they don’t really act like robots in any meaningful “hard scifi” way. It feels closer to a set of sorrowful medieval short stories than most science fiction, and its “science” is more spiritual and metaphorical than concrete

And we have a new episodic character – the Lone Wanderer, an unlikely fighter who walks hunched over, like he’s dying. This guy’s given visual definition by his radiant silver hair, which as usual leads to visual compositions that de-emphasize his nature as an actual character in favor of making him a striking visual object

His cloak billows in the breeze

This man knows Luna as well

“The Man Entrapped by the Past.” That kinda covers everyone in this show. I wonder if this was another of Luna’s royal guard, now that we’ve met her attendant. Though I assume each of her associates we’ll meet will have their own distinct relationship to her

Casshern’s “brother” and the woman working with him – Leda

He refuses to fix his crest. He doesn’t want to look like Casshern, and is fine with embracing an imperfect appearance

Alright, so this actually is Dio. Did he mention that when we first met him?

“Someday, I too will fall to Ruin. Will I still be perfect then?”

“It was Casshern who reached Luna back then. Casshern who killed her, and Casshern who attained eternal life”

Dio isn’t in imminent danger of dying, but he seems as terrified of death as any of the others

“Now it’s time to rise above Casshern.” This woman occupies a familiar role, whispering bloody ambitions in the ear of her king

This show doesn’t really feel the need to be subtle in its archetypes. It’s happy to sculpt fundamentally archetypal, well-worn narratives

In a world without hope, Dio offers at least some direction. The robots will cling to anything that offers an answer, even if it means becoming a tool in his army

But Dio knows it’s actually Casshern they want

“Eternal life and the Empire. And then I shall be…” And she kisses her own reflection. Her loyalty is to beauty and herself

Flashbacks to before the Ruin, our path guided there by this blue flower

Seems like this man was indeed one of Luna’s dedicated knights

Once a proud and beautiful soldier, he’s become a shambling wreck. Only his skill in his function remains, as demonstrated by destroying those three robots. The one thing none of them can escape

Dio’s robots are getting impatient because he spends all his time sulking in moodily lit rooms

As before, the more Dio-focused material tends to be the slowest. We’ve spent half an episode watching this guy trudge to Dio’s castle

Like Casshern, when threatened he defends himself

“Dune. Luna’s former bodyguard”

His current body bears basically no resemblance to his memories. I doubt that’s because his memories are embellished – bodies are just actually that fluid in this show

“I’ve heard rumors she’s still alive.” Casshern Sins continue to very slowly shift its narrative assumptions over the course of many episodes. As Casshern comes to learn things, those things become rumors and then common knowledge of the world around him. As usual, every element of this production speaks in one voice

“Pathetic. Struggling, trapped by the past for all time”

“A pathetic, ugly thing.” Dio and Leda both associate beauty and perfection with goodness, and ugliness with the opposite

“He’s just like me.” Oh good, Dio does have some self-awareness

“Your appearance never changes.” So she knew him?

Luna was the only one who showed him affection. All others feared him

Terrific fight here. They each have very distinct styles, and there’s a sense of impact to this battle that Casshern’s one-sided duels sometimes lack

“Luna needed to die for robots to rule the world.” Well, that’s something. Perhaps implying the world before her death was a static one, where robots were preserved, but not given a meaningful future

Dune mistakes Dio for Casshern. Way to provoke one of his biggest insecurities, dude

Some really great shots of Dio here. I actually don’t really like Dio or Leda’s color schemes in general – their thick, bold primary colors clash with the show’s landscape in a way I’m not a fan of, and their particular colors are just not very beautiful anyway. But when they’re isolated against sky or framed in Yamauchi’s signature closeups, they can still be quite striking

Dio feeling anger about always being second to Casshern is also a conflict we need more context for to really care about. Dio is not much of a sympathetic character, but if his motives came from an understandable place, it’d still be reasonably easy to invest in his story. But in a show like Casshern Sins, that’s not so easy – basically everyone here is moved by Big Thematic Concerns instead of tangible human feelings and problems, and while those can still generate audience sympathy when they’re as generally comprehensible as “fear of oblivion” or as naturally agreeable as “playing music for the last of our kind,” things become a bit trickier when you reach motives as obscure and morally ambiguous as Dio’s

That said, Dio is at least expressing a great deal of vulnerability here, even if that vulnerability comes out in the form of beating a broken old man to death

“I chose you, not Casshern”

At last, Dio is ready for his speech. “As long as you obey me, you need not fear death!”

“Everyone in my way must be destroyed.” Leda’s a simple girl

“If Luna is alive, I have to go see her. All the answers lie with her.” You don’t say

Dune reaches for another flower, but it crumbles in his hands. Hooray for metaphors

And Done

Yeah, that was definitely a lesser episode of Casshern Sins. Dio’s story just isn’t that compelling yet – his feelings of inferiority haven’t really been given a compelling thematic purpose, and that’s basically all there is to him so far. I did like how this episode leaned into Casshern Sins’ general tendency towards medieval myth-making, and receiving more context regarding Luna’s past life was nice, but overall this was mostly a role-filler that I’m not exactly sure succeeded in its role. Hopefully there’s more to Dio than we’ve seen as of yet, because so far, his material lacks a bit of the poignancy I think it needs.

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